|Choosing a Career Direction|
||There is a saying that, “you have to take life as it happens, but you should
try to make it happen the way you want to take it.” This idea, that we can,
and should, make an effort to methodically plan our futures is the
foundation of career planning.
Career planning is difficult for many individuals as it involves the analysis of important and competing choices, decision making, commitment to a goal, action steps,and periodic reevaluations to assess progress against the goal, or even a modification to the goal.
A great, but perhaps daunting fact about the world of work, is that there are a tremendous amount of options. If I could get you to write a list of all the occupations you have ever heard of, how long would your list would be? I sense many of you would get bored quickly with this exercise. Furthermore, no one would come close to making a comprehensive list because such a list has several thousand occupations! So, when you think about your career options, are you working from an expansive list, or have you already shortchanged yourself with a limited pool of ideas?
Once a good list of career options is generated, the task is to evaluate those career alternatives and eventually select one that you will go forward with. The best way to do this is through a careful examination of all relevant issues related to the career decision. These issues include, but are not limited to, an objective analysis of your present skills, as well as skills you can acquire in a reasonable period of time, your inherent interest in each career option, availability of job openings in each field, salary expectations, educational qualifications, prior work experience, and psychological and health limitations, if any. With so many issues to consider, career decisions are often not clear-cut and uncertainty about which direction to pursue throws many individuals into “career paralysis.”
For young people, one insidious type of career paralysis happens when the individual lets the marketplace determine the career. Unable to select any specific career direction, he or she goes out into the world and pursues a wide variety of job openings. A job is secured but it is most likely not a good long-term fit because it was happenstance, not a well-considered career plan, which determined the employment situation. You may wonder what is so bad about this, especially if the actions resulted in a decent job. For many, the problem lies down the road. If you start in a career that you are not particularly well suited for, or not particularly interested in, sooner or later, you will probably want to switch to something that fits you better. That switch often means going back to school for additional education or accepting a significant pay cut as you become a beginner in a new field.
The importance of making informed, thoughtful career decisions cannot be overstated as such decisions have enormous impact on overall life satisfaction. In this regard, almost everyone can benefit from professional career counseling.
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